A Doctor’s Guide: What is Type 2 Diabetes and How Can Your Primary Care Provider Help?
Over 37 million people live with diabetes in the United States. Many more have prediabetes, or higher than normal blood sugar levels which eventually can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. The disease has become more common over time, likely due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and longer life spans.
Dr. Julia Roos is a primary care physician with CaroMont Family Medicine in Shelby. Daily, she sees patients of all ages with a variety of health concerns, including type 2 diabetes. We asked her important questions about the disease, especially what the average person should know in order to stay healthy:
Q: What is type 2 diabetes?
A: Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells in a person's body does not process the insulin well. This leads to elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. Over time, high blood sugar will damage organs and lead to serious health concerns like heart disease, kidney disease and vision loss. Type 2 diabetes is more likely in adults than children or adolescents and develops in individuals based on several different risk factors.
Q: What are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?
A: There are some risk factors that we are to unable control or change, such as genetics and family history. Additionally, the more we age, the higher the risk. There are some risk factors we are able to control, however. Individuals who are overweight and inactive are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their peers who maintain healthy weight levels and lead active lifestyles. Working with those patients to find solutions that can lower their risk is important.
Q: What signs and symptoms should prompt someone to seek medical care?
A: Diabetes can present with symptoms like increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue and blurry vision. A person who has developed diabetes may notice that wounds are not healing. Sometimes, the disease does not present with any symptoms at all.
That is one of the reasons annual wellness exams are so important. If I am able to see you yearly, establish a baseline for your health and perform routine bloodwork, then identifying diabetes or hopefully, prediabetes will be much easier.
Q: What is your best advice for patients with concerns of type 2 diabetes?
A: When prediabetes is diagnosed, it gives us an opportunity to work together and try to redirect the course of your health. We will monitor your progress over time, making sure that you’re sticking with lifestyle changes that are individualized to your needs. I like to focus on ensuring patients are getting enough exercise (30 minutes at least five times a week), and monitoring eating choices that support a healthy lifestyle and healthy blood sugar levels. If a patient is overweight, even losing 5% of their body weight can improve blood sugar levels.
If pre-diabetes is diagnosed, regular appointments are necessary to monitor how well these lifestyle changes are working for you as a whole person — not just as a patient with diabetes or pre-diabetes. We always want to identify and mitigate concerns early, when they are most treatable.
Q: Why is the primary care relationship so important to the health and wellness of a patient?
A: I love that in my role as a family medicine doctor, I get to be involved in the care of a broad range of concerns, not just diabetes. Yes, I see diabetes and high blood pressure a lot, but my work as a physician is really understanding and partnering with patients on their unique needs and healthcare goals. For me, that relationship is truly rewarding. Providing meaningful care at every age, and often providing care to multiple generations of the same family, is why I chose family medicine. I appreciate the opportunity to be their trusted partner in good health.
Dr. Julia Roos is a board-certified primary care physician, practicing with CaroMont Family Medicine in Shelby. She is currently accepting new patients. Call 704.484.8001 to make an appointment.